EU （European Union）
On June 17, 2016, the International School Network visited the Delegation of the European Union to Japan to interview the Ambassador of the European Union to Japan, His Excellency Mr. Viorel Isticioaia-Budura. Mr. Richard Kelner, the Academic Cooperation Officer at the Delegation, organized our interview and guided us around the EU Delegation.
The EU (By Madoka)
H.E. Mr. Isticioaia-Budura explained to us that the EU is a community that represents chances, opportunities, and partnership. As a complex union with 28 member states, the EU is able to achieve a deeper connection between countries that go beyond what bilateral connections can accomplish. “With 28 friends,” he commented, “[We] can do so much more in one go.”
H.E. Mr. Isticioaia-Budura expressed to us his admiration for the strength and resilience shown by Japanese people during difficult times such as natural disasters. He explained that he respects the Japanese quality of inner strength, mutual support, and solidarity, which he finds are important common values between European and Japanese people.
Agreements (By Madoka)
There are two main agreements that are currently being discussed between the EU and Japan. The first is the Free Trade Agreement, which is an economic partnership that reduces trade barriers. H.E. Mr. Isticioaia-Budura explained to us that this agreement would bring significant benefits to both the EU and Japan, with increased trade and job creation.
The Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) is a political agreement between the EU and Japan. H.E. Mr. Isticioaia-Budura himself acted as chief negotiator for this agreement in the early stages of the foundation of this agreement in his capacity as Managing Director and Head of the Asia and Pacific Department at the European External Action Service in Brussels. H.E. Mr. Isticioaia-Budura commented that this agreement is “unusual”, as it is a “strategic agreement”. He taught us that there are two important factors of a strategic agreement. Firstly, the agreement creates possibilities of cooperation in the long term. He explained that when countries welcome each other as friends, they are to “see you as a friend for a long time to come.” The second factor of a strategic agreement is that it impacts not only those involved but also many others. “A strategic agreement is simple but real,” he told us, “and beyond bilateral”. The cooperation between Japan and the EU will form values and results for many other countries, especially due to the globalized world we live in today. H.E. Mr. Isticioaia-Budura mentioned that he hopes such agreements will bring “benefits for as many [other countries] as possible”, and that we can “go together hand in hand” to “[share] our friendship”.
The ‘Peace-Making Missions’ and its ‘Driving Force’ (By Kurumi)
Prior to obtaining its current name of “EU”, the economic-political union was known as the regional organisation “European Economic Community (EEC)”, which aimed to ensure economic integration. As the war in Europe during both World War I and II rose from the development of steel that were utilized to produce guns, the European politicians at the time aimed to “share basic interests in the economic field”, as they figured that war could potentially be avoided “by creating a common interest”. Thus, by raising ‘peace’ as a central value, the EEC and the later formed EU (in 1993) aimed to work not only by observing solely on the economic and political framework, but in fact, the union has been undergoing ‘peace-making missions’ through shared interest in the economic and political fields. H.E. Mr. Isticioaia-Budura mentioned that the Japanese Prime Minister, Mr. Abe Shinzō, had “spoken highly of the [EU, as a] proactive contributor of peace”. He explained that particularly since 1999, the EU has been actively engaged in the dispatch of common security and defence missions worldwide, to assist in places under crises. In recent years, the European Union has been working on crisis management, particularly in Africa where one of the aims has been to aid nations by assuring safety and security of shipping.. In Somalia, for instance, the anti-piracy European Union Naval Force Operation Atalanta has been securing safety in the Somali coastal areas.. Through increased cooperation with Japan, H.E. Mr. Isticioaia-Budura mentioned that he hopes to “consolidate justice” by working more closely with the Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF).
When asked what the ‘driving force’ of the union is, he commented that the member-states of the EU maintain a “common stance” (which is ensured by the membership conditions presented in the Copenhagen Criteria) and that every member-state “respects the rules” set by the EU. The key, he said is to “make dialogue” and “negotiate, not pacify”.
The Ambassador’s Passion and Source of Inspiration (By Kurumi)
H.E. Mr. Isticioaia-Budura began working in Japan in October 2014. Prior to securing his current position as the Ambassador of the EU to Japan, he worked,for many years in Asia with high profile positions at the Embassies of Romania in China, South Korea, and Japan. His direct contact with Japan began many years ago, and it was then that he began to “love and understand Japan”. He stated that even while serving as Managing Director and Head of the Asia and Pacific Department at the European External Action Service in Brussels, Belgium, he visited Japan once in six months for his business and he had “looked forward to coming back”. H.E. Mr. Isticioaia-Budura’s admiration for Japan began in 1978. Coincidentally, the first article he wroten when working at the Foreign Ministry in Romania, was about Bonsai (a Japanese art form of trees grown in containers). He commented, “In this globalized world, most of us tend to live in cities. Bonsai is a symbol that nature has to be close to us”. H.E. Mr. Isticioaia-Budura mentioned that despite the “years of pain of living in a confined space” the trees experiences, they are “still beautiful”. He then asked, “we as people, may not have space. In this limited space we have, can you, to the best extent of your ability, be beautiful?”. Utilizing the Bonsai as a metaphor, he commented that his role as a diplomat is to not always state the significance of “size” but “to find beauty in the small things”. Since he began his job as a diplomat, he has been cultivating his interest and love of Japan, as his current goal is to “learn more about how beautiful and specific Japan is”. In addition, H.E. Mr. Isticioaia-Budura addressed the importance of “developing a mutual understanding and engagement” in increasing the understanding of the Japanese society and the EU. He stated that our mutual love for nature and flowers signify that there are similarities and that it is possible for Japan and the EU to “go beyond the distance and difference in cultures”.
When asked what inspired him to become a diplomat, H.E. Mr. Isticioaia-Budura gave a brief overview of his background. He attended university in his home country Romania, where he studied Philosophy and Literature. In order to deepen his knowledge of Oriental Philosophy and acquire extensive knowledge of Classic Philosophy, he studied in China. Later on, he served as a diplomat in Asia, taking up his current position in late 2014.. Regarding his role as a diplomat, he stated that he sees himself as a “messenger for good cooperation and friendship” and commented that he finds his position “difficult but exciting”. “EU is working with all Asian countries. You need to go and establish partnerships with countries of different background, ”H.E. Mr. Isticioaia-Budura further added. He mentioned that his role as a diplomat is to “find the language of friendship”.
The Ambassador's Dream and Message (By Kate)
Lastly, H.E. Mr. Isticioaia-Budura commented on our project, telling us that our visit and encounters with global leaders shows how inquisitive our minds are. He stated that this will help us to understand how things are done in the world and expand strategic relations with people to share perspectives with. He said that he hopes students understand more about the diversity of EU nations and he assures that “traveling will bring plenty of beautiful things which you will benefit from.” He taught us the importance to seek and learn the historical values, mentality of the people and their cultures to learn their perspectives. He wished future students to grow as globally minded people with strong background of knowledge as the country’s perspective on world issues is based on the nation’s background and its history. To achieve this, it is essential for students to have a good understanding of viewpoints about the world that people from a variety of different backgrounds have.
H.E. Mr. Isticioaia-Budura shared his childhood experience when he first used the television, black and white at the time. At first he did not know how to use this new machine, but his father helped him find the button to control it. From this story he taught us a message about the importance on finding the right place to push that would not break the function. This reflects on relationship with people to find the right way to act in order to make it work the correct way and to keep the good relationship between people. As an EU ambassador who brings together the ideas of all EU nations and acts as a bridge with the Japanese government, H.E. Mr. Isticioaia-Budura emphasised the importance of taking the right actions for yourself and others in order to have mutual understanding in communications.
Ambassador Mr. Isticioaia-Budura ended the interview commenting that “We are friends now and for tomorrow.” He wishes more opportunities for students to have a platform where opinions can be shared. Mentioning that each encounter with people will help us grow and acquire new knowledge that will further help us to handle conflicts.
Madoka Nishina 12th Saint Maur International School
Kate Shimizu 12th Seisen International School
Kurumi Onishi 11th Saint Maur International School
Karen Nishina 6th Saint Maur International School
Anna Okada 6th Saint Maur International School